Have You Seen Me? How to Come Home When You’re Missing from Your Own Life

October 28, 2022

Do you ever feel not quite yourself? Like you’ve gone missing in your own life? Activities you used to enjoy leave you flat. You don’t feel like doing/eating/talking about any of the things you usually enjoy, but you’re not sure what sounds enticing. If anything. You’re not depressed, exactly, but nothing brings you the joy it once did.

You feel like you’re wearing a [your name here] suit, just going through the motions of living your life.

I’ve been feeling this unsettling way for several months now. Few of the simple pleasures and everyday adventures that used to spark joy in me have appealed. Going places was too much effort. I could muster the energy to buy groceries, or go to the barn or the library, but anything beyond that was, well, beyond meI felt like my face should be on a milk carton with the words “Have you seen me?” running over my head.

Why would you go missing?

There are several reasons you might not feel like yourself. You could simply be going through a period of natural growth in your life. You could have recently come through some type of change or transition. You could be burnt out and overwhelmed from coping with life’s circumstances. Probably there are as many causes as there are missing persons. It pays to think about what might be causing you to go missing, since your solution for how to come home to yourself may depend on the reason you’re feeling that way.

For me, it’s a combination of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic (completely withdrawing from the world, then trying to reenter it), the uncertainty of my mother-in-law’s condition, and a bit of burnout related to my writing life. 

A turning point—I hope

Last Friday, my friend Laure Ferlita invited me to meet her at a local flower farm for some photo taking (see photo at the top of this post) and on-location sketching. I happily agreed—the combination of wonderful weather, the chance to see my friend, and even to refill my creative well was irresistible. While my sketching was definitely rusty, I deeply enjoyed the experience of getting out of the house, breathing the fresh air, and talking with my friend. This little outing woke me up from the sleepwalking I’ve been doing. And while I’m still groggy, I feel like I want to wake up all the way.

Coming home to yourself

I’m slowly embracing the process of coming home to myself. Here’s what I’m doing—and anyone else who’s not feeling quite themselves is welcome to join me. Nothing here is revolutionary, but taken together, these things seem to be bringing me back to myself, and I think they’ll help you, too.

Take some quiet time just to listen to your thoughts. Enjoy the literal quiet, or put on some instrumental music you find uplifting. Simplify everything. Reread a favorite book. Eat a favorite food slowly and mindfully. Ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Take walks. Journal. Treat yourself kindly, and be curious and kind to the “new” you.

Laure also offered me some good advice when I was lamenting my lack of motivation: “Take a small step every day. What I have found and still find is that it really doesn’t matter what it is you do. It’s about the actions of choosing, doing and finishing. Once I start choosing tasks, and taking steps, the direction usually becomes evident.” I have found this to be true, even when the task is as small as doing a load of laundry or watering my plants.

Most of all, keep trying—don’t give up. 

There are indications that this process is working for me. This week I ordered my planner for 2023 (planners play an outsize role in my happiness 😉), which means I’m thinking about making plans for a new year. I’ve started anticipating the holiday season rather than dreading it (the thought of all the extra to-dos made me want to cry rather than celebrate). It’s a start. And it’s enough for now.

What do you do to come home to yourself?

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  1. Dear Kathy I hear and understand your heart...it has been several years since I have felt like myself. Losing my dad five years ago started me down the rabbit hole and with each passing year life's circumstances have grown at times overwhelming. Perhaps it is our age, the changing culture and world events (pandemic). Whatever the reason; it has come to me that the threads of human experience are so often shared. So glad to read that you had a good day with Laure and may you continue to look forward to 2023. Hugs!

    1. Debbie--I think there is something about losing a parent that starts us on this road, as I lost my dad in 2018. And no doubt, aging plays a role in all of this, as it brings more challenges and also more "wake-up calls" that life is not infinite. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, and I hope you have a great week!